We fight the sea at Kronstadt
Across the frozen, hostile, misted sea
To Kronstadt, to attack entrenched White Guards
Manning the garrison there, mysteriously
All-powerful, where once we could command,
Talking now to our own as we talked before:
Workers' control, soviet power (with no
Bolsheviks!), peasant rights—echoing the roar
From the countryside: impossible demands!
What could we do? Abandon the fort commanding
Petrograd? Call it off? Surrender? Give up
The workers' power, looming chaos notwithstanding?
No: we would take a stronger, firmer grip,
And fight to bridle History run amok!
We marched to conquer fortress Kronstadt;
Beating them as we beat the other Whites
(Who did not sound like us) wreaked bloody spite.
We marched to conquer Fortress Kronstadt:
Under their guns across the ice-clad sea
Went Congress delegate and soldier elite;
Their cannon smashed the ice on whih we stood;
The abyss opened under us; ice closed
Above white-sheathed warriors splashed with blood:
The ghostly camouflage, pale cloaks like clouds
We wore, did duty too for billowing shrouds.
After, when our bodies were reclaimed from the sacrifice,
The red still showed, frozen, in long coffins of ice.
S. O. 1990